To All Highschool Girls:



By: Kyleigh Mcgrail

High school is crazy, and I'm at a point as a senior where it's a lot of "lasts". Last first day of school, last time I'll go to a football game with my friends, that sort of thing. I've realized that I've learned so much over the course of these 4 years so far, and that I have so much more to learn. All of these things came honestly straight from my head and I decided I needed to write it all down. I was in the shower and thinking about all of the things I want a family friends' Freshman daughter to know. I created this list of advice from what I've learned. It's all the things I wish I knew and that I know now that I think high school girls need to know.

Friends





If you ever find yourself with friends that aren’t supportive, aren’t good influences, or you just don’t enjoy being around them, distance yourself and make new friends. It sounds impossible but it isn’t. If those relationships are toxic you need to build the courage to step away. Don’t burn bridges with those friends - It’ll only turn out badly and create drama. Stay on good terms with them and always stay friendly. Like mama always says, kill ‘em with kindness.

Don’t get a boyfriend and then pretend all of your friends don’t exist for the next 4 years. We all know a girl or two like this, and they end up wondering why all the memories they have are with the one same guy, and why they don’t have any friends left.





If all your friends are joining DECA and you can’t see yourself enjoying DECA at all, don’t take DECA. Join what you’re interested in and you’ll find other, new like-minded friends in addition to your other friends.





Don’t be so wrapped up in your friend group that you don’t talk to other people. It’s okay to have multiple friend groups.





Family





Spend time with your mom and dad, even if you don’t think they’re cool. They are, and someday when they aren’t around anymore you’ll wish you would’ve listened to all their dumb stories so you could tell your kids.





Your grandparents love you SO MUCH. You literally stand on a spinning, shining pedestal to them, so call them back and reply when they text you and go have dinner with them even when you have a test the next morning.


If your best friends' boyfriend cheats on her, go over and talk to her and make cookies with her. Again, she's always going to be more important than your test tomorrow.





Don’t be mean to your siblings. Yes, you may think they’re ridiculous and immature but they’re going to miss you way more than they want to admit when you leave for college. Try to spend some time with them and be nice to them.





School





I don’t care if you’re in 8th grade or you’re a senior, sit down and open a word document and type all the things you’ve done that you can remember. When you’re sitting down to fill out your college applications and you haven’t done this (like many of my friends), you’re probably going to cry and want to give up. Create an activities, awards and honors, and work experience sections. It doesn’t have to be complicated - just put down the clubs you’re in, what your responsibilities are within them and what you do as a member, anything special you’ve been recognized for, and any work experience you have. If you need resume help or college application help, email me here and I’d be more than willing to help you!





Freshman year, try a bunch of things you things you might be interested in. Sophomore year, drop the boring stuff and focus on excelling in the things you enjoyed. Stick with a club or two all the way through your high school career, and trust me, you’ll thank me when you’re filling out college applications. You also may find those things are the things you love and want to pursue in higher education.





Work really hard in school because as much as it doesn’t seem like it know (why the hell do I need to know descartes’ rule), it is important. That being said, if you try your best and don’t do as well as you would’ve hoped, don’t stress. Life has a funny way of working itself out and a bad grade on a test or in a class doesn’t define your intelligence and won’t affect you come time for applying to college. I remember when I got a C- for the year in AP World Sophomore year and I thought I was such a failure (since I’m generally and A/B student). Everything has worked out just fine. You will be okay.





YOUR GRADES FRESHMAN YEAR ARE IMPORTANT. Some people completely goof off Freshman year and expect for it not to affect their GPA, but it’s hard to rebuild when you’ve started off badly.





Your GPA and class rank are wonky and are not nearly as important as taking challenging courses and doing well in them, because that’s something you can control.





Life is too dang short to spend all your time worrying about school. I know a girl who all she does is eat, sleep, and breathe studying and all things school. School is so important, don’t get me wrong, but balance in critical in high school. If you aren’t spending time with your friends and you aren’t doing other things you love outside of school, you’ll never be happy.





Write all your homework in your agenda. For each day, write down the homework you have for each class and then underneath, write what homework you have to do that night. Having what you need to do that night, in order by priority, will help you tackle all of the tasks you have. Also, make sure you write down all the dates you work, all the dates your college applications are due, all the dates you have club meetings. Write down your friends birthdays, the football games, and the school dances. When you write these things down, you can visualize them and you’re less likely to forget about a project due in 2 weeks (especially because you wrote it down and can look back at it).





If writing stuff down doesn’t work for you, find your own system and try to do it freshman year. The faster you come up with a functioning system for you (whether it be an app, whatever) the faster you’ll be able to nail down a routine and get things done more efficiently. Basically, less melt downs because you have so much to do by Friday that you forgot about until Wednesday.
Build a solid relationship with your school counselor and be respectful and kind to your teachers and other staff. Most of them bust their butt to help make you successful and aren’t thanked by a lot of students. Thank everyone at school too often because they work really hard to help you. Even if you can’t always see it, most of them are trying to better you as a person.





That solid relationship with your counselor and teachers will come in handy later when you need them to write you a kick-butt recommendation letter for college, honors programs, and scholarships. When they write you one, write them a really nice thank you note within a week.





Career



If an opportunity comes up and you want to take it, take it. My best advice is that if you’re passionate about it, do it. If you’re passionate about something, nothing else matters. You’ll make time to do it because you love it. If you’re worried your friends will think you’re dumb or uncool for doing it, you need new friends.





Get a job and learn how to budget your money. If you’re lucky enough that your parents pay for things for you, try to get used to high school first. My dad always told me that school was my job. If you can wait until Junior year to get a job, do it. Freshman and Sophomore year, life is just too new to add that kind of responsibility onto sports and clubs. When you have a job, save your money.You’re going to want to spend all of your money on clothes and food (mainly food), but make sure you’re saving a significant amount more than you’re spending. You’re going to want it so you can go on trips and have money for college.





If you want it, ask for it. Sure, you’re young and you might get ignored or someone might tell you no, but you’ll probably get a heck of a lot more yes’s than you do no’s.





If you think you might want to be a teacher, ask if you can student teach at an elementary school. If you think you might want to work in Public Relations, find a non-profit in your area and see if you can help manage their social media. Don’t be afraid to send them an email and just ask for what you want, because the worst thing they can say is no.





Learn how to send a professional email. Say “Hi Blah Blah,” and “Best, Kyleigh”. Keep the exclamation points to a minimum and use common sense.





Keep your social media accounts clean. Maybe I’m a grandma, or maybe I’ve heard too many horror stories about college admissions denying students for inappropriate content on social media, but don’t curse and don’t post pictures of you doing dumb/illegal things because once it’s out there - even if you delete it - it’s still there and it’ll probably come back to bite you in the butt.
Do things to make yourself stand out. Write hand-written thank you notes (because I think it’s becoming a lost art and it’s so important),  and go above and beyond when you can.





Life in general





Surround yourself with positivity and be the positive person. There’s so much negativity and stress in high school, so don’t add to it.





Be nice to everyone. Easier said than done, yes, but you never know what someone’s going through. Smile in the hallways, say hi to people, hold doors. It makes a difference and you’ll feel better about yourself.





Your size and what you wear do not matter. I used to get so upset going into high school when I was changing sizes because I thought having a size 8 shorts made me too big. As long as you’re staying healthy and you love your body, you’re perfect. As for what you wear, brand names are huge in middle school. In high school, you can wear what makes you happy and people won’t care. I’ve learned that dressing nicer helps me feel confident and do well in school, but it’s honestly whatever works for you and whatever you like to wear.





Volunteer in meaningful, rewarding ways. Find places you can make a real difference and involve yourself, because the service you do will affect you more than whatever you’re helping with.





If you can, travel. Not everyone has the blessing and opportunity to do so, but it can be truly eye opening to see other places than where you live. The service trip I went on after my Sophomore year pushed me way out of my comfort zone and I wouldn’t change anything about it.





I really do believe that when God closes a door, he opens another. Of course, the door may seem to take forever to open or it won’t be what you want in the beginning, but in the end it’ll be exactly what you needed. Getting cut from the volleyball team junior year devastated me, but looking back I wouldn’t change one single thing because it led me to other opportunities I never would have had otherwise - but can’t imagine my life without now.





If you aren’t passionate about living life, you’re doing it wrong. I know so many negative people who are just plain unhappy because they aren’t passionate about what they’re doing.





Do some stupid stuff, just be smart about it and don’t get caught. That one’s from my dad. You’re young and you only have so much time until riding around in the bed of trucks and stealing street signs isn’t acceptable anymore, after all.





Sing at the top of your lungs in the car and dance your little heart out at all the school dances because everyone’s worried they look dumb but if you start it, they’ll all join in and you’ll always have way more fun.





One of my favorite teachers always says it’s better to do it first and then ask for forgiveness instead of asking for permission if you’re going to be denied. Basically, do what you want and then smile and apologize profusely later.





Use your voice to make a change. Don’t be shy. You’ll probably stay in touch with max. 5 of the people in this school. Even if what you’re saying is reaching a small scale audience (your friends, your class, your school), your voice makes a difference. You won’t think anyone’s listening, but someone is and your opinions and ideas could help them.

Relax. We get so caught up in having to do this and having to do that we lose sight of the big picture. This life is crazy beautiful! Step back and remember what’s important and why we do what we do. Sometimes when I’m freaked out over a ton of homework I have to remember how blessed I am to be getting an education. Sometimes when I find myself getting too wrapped up in unimportant things, I have to remember how fortunate I am to have a house over my head and food, as cliche as it may sound, because so many people don’t have that.

Love,
Kyleigh

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